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AXPONA 2017: Salk Signature Sound, Wells Audio, EXOGAL, Gingko Audio, Danacable

Blumlein 88

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#4
Oh NO! How long were you in this room? They are using Bybee stuff. You are now permanently quantum entangled with it. How can we trust your ears ever again?

Some pretty wood on that speaker though. Me likey. I do have a target rifle with a stock that looks much the same.

Like their song choice too.
 

DonH56

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#5
I have admired Jim Salk's speakers from afar and they are on my short list if I can find some to audition.

As for the Acoustic Resolution Clarifiers, obviously I need to get my wood shop up again and I could be retiring in style. Wonder how Audio Research Corporation likes their logo? And no wonder I lost all respect for the patent system long ago...

[edit] See from the website they are meant to be placed under speakers and such to provide isolation and vibration dampening. They are a stack of materials, not just wood, so I'd hav to buy some cork and rubber or what have you in my forthcoming venture. Curved to reduce contact with the floor, and flex under the weight to better isolate. Flexing implies they will not keep the speaker itself from vibrating, however.

At least they used a trumpet player, who could argue with that? :D
 
Last edited:

CAP

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#6
I enjoyed the snot out of the Exotica speakers.. Priced well for the Drivers they use.. Jims local .. Now those Sono Tube speaker spike holders.. HMMM
 

Xulonn

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#7
Salk speakers - I've fallen in love. Plain-jane rectangular monkey coffins like the Salk Songtowers, softened a bit with rounded edges, and covered with gorgeous exotic hardwood veneers makes for some beautiful loudspeakers. I don't know how I overlooked the Salks. Indeed, I had seen references and hearty recommendations for them many times over the years, but ignored them for some unknown reason.

I have been an audio enthusiast and hi-fi music lover since my high school days in 1958. Many years later, I worked as a salesman and exotic and tropical hardwood specialist from 2006-2010 at a Woodcraft store in Northern California. This was after I retired from IT, but I needed to supplement my Social Security pension. At Woodcraft I learned to appreciate the beauty of those woods under the guidance of Kris Warden, a fellow salesman who had worked for Alembic guitars, and later went back to jos job there. I learned how to turn wood, bought a small benchtop lathe, made many beautiful bowls and platters. I even managed to place first in my category in juried competition at the Sonoma County Museum in 2011!

So then, I prefer speakers that sound good as well as look beautiful. In spite of Salk's association with audiophool woo products (if it helps their sales and keeps them in business, I could care less), their designs seem sound (pun intended) and on-axis FR looks excellent.

I owned a pair of transmission-line speakers many years ago in the 1970's - ESS Heil AMT-1T towers - and really liked them. Supposedly, the TL towers sound a lot like sealed box speakers, and the bottom port reduces bass and mid-bass boom and makes flattening room response with DSP easier. The Salk Songtowers look like a refined and updated evolution of that ESS design - especially with the RAAL ribbon tweeters in a d'appolito array - although I would probably consider the standard silk-dome tweeters because of the additional cost of the RAAL ribbons. Here are the ones that I like, could afford, and would probably work best in my room.

Salk Songtowers.jpg


Look at the gorgeous examples of Salk speakers in Amir's AXPONA reporting posts above this post, and see even more halfway down Salk's home page. Here is a LINK to their list of Salk's available hardwood veneers, most of which I am familiar with, and have turned on my wood lathe. Go down to "Custom Finishes," select a veneer, and click on "Conduct Search" to see many, many examples of some of the most beautiful wood in the world. Using veneers rather than solid hardwoods for any fine woodworking project reduces the environmental impact of exotic wood harvesting. My very favorite wood in the world is ziricote with its black "veining," pictured below - but it can be quite expensive.

Salk Ziricote.jpg


At age 77, but fortunately with very good hearing for my age except for the almost universal age-related loss of high-frequency perception, I feel blessed. As my mobility decreases year by year, I lean towards having an excellent little office/media room with my 40" LED TV and 2-channel audio system, and spend many hours traveling the world and listening to a vast array of available digital music, both from my own large collection and internet streaming options.

What is available today in the world of recorded music and video boggles the mind of this older person who was born when there was no television, and it took an album of monaural 78rpm records for a single symphony. I plan to continue to enjoy recorded music and video as long as I can. I am well aware that music therapy for dementia has demonstrated that music can even bring back awareness and a life worth living for many people for whom it had faded, and likely can help to stave off any propensity for dementia. (When my posts become incoherent, you will know that I am fading! :rolleyes:)

My current system - listed below - is an excellent budget stereo system. A dedicated media room (which is coming together now) will be the fulfillment of a dream for me, and upgrading to pair of small floor-standing speakers covered in exotic wood veneer - like the Salk Songtowers - would be a step towards audio/video nirvana.
 

amirm

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#8
Look at the gorgeous examples of Salk speakers in Amir's AXPONA reporting posts above this post, and see even more halfway down Salk's home page. Here is a LINK to their list of Salk's available hardwood veneers, most of which I am familiar with, and have turned on my wood lathe. Go down to "Custom Finishes," select a veneer, and click on "Conduct Search" to see many, many examples of some of the most beautiful wood in the world. Using veneers rather than solid hardwoods for any fine woodworking project reduces the environmental impact of exotic wood harvesting.
With woodworking being one of my other hobbies, I spoke at length with them about all the amazing veneer they use as you mention. Just incredible, top of the line work.
 
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#9
^The trouble with such veneer (the highly figured veneer) is that it will crack over a ten year period. As much as I love the look of that veneer, I would never buy a speaker with it. An open grain such the one with the burnished edges would be my preference. Truly beautiful.
 

KLH007

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#10
^The trouble with such veneer (the highly figured veneer) is that it will crack over a ten year period. As much as I love the look of that veneer, I would never buy a speaker with it. An open grain such the one with the burnished edges would be my preference. Truly beautiful.
I don't think you should make such absolute statements about a veneer cracking without having records of Salk's speakers cracking over a 10 year period.
 

Ilkless

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#11
With woodworking being one of my other hobbies, I spoke at length with them about all the amazing veneer they use as you mention. Just incredible, top of the line work.
Jim Salk did one of the best audio AMAs on Reddit a few years back. He detailed their finishing techniques here (very impressive even for their entry-level veneer stuff, let alone upgrades like hand-rubbed gloss): https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/4nw0i7/_/d47p4lv . Incredible work.

Salk speakers - I've fallen in love. Plain-jane rectangular monkey coffins like the Salk Songtowers, softened a bit with rounded edges, and covered with gorgeous exotic hardwood veneers makes for some beautiful loudspeakers. I don't know how I overlooked the Salks. Indeed, I had seen references and hearty recommendations for them many times over the years, but ignored them for some unknown reason.

I have been an audio enthusiast and hi-fi music lover since my high school days in 1958. Many years later, I worked as a salesman and exotic and tropical hardwood specialist from 2006-2010 at a Woodcraft store in Northern California. This was after I retired from IT, but I needed to supplement my Social Security pension. At Woodcraft I learned to appreciate the beauty of those woods under the guidance of Kris Warden, a fellow salesman who had worked for Alembic guitars, and later went back to jos job there. I learned how to turn wood, bought a small benchtop lathe, made many beautiful bowls and platters. I even managed to place first in my category in juried competition at the Sonoma County Museum in 2011!

So then, I prefer speakers that sound good as well as look beautiful. In spite of Salk's association with audiophool woo products (if it helps their sales and keeps them in business, I could care less), their designs seem sound (pun intended) and on-axis FR looks excellent.

I owned a pair of transmission-line speakers many years ago in the 1970's - ESS Heil AMT-1T towers - and really liked them. Supposedly, the TL towers sound a lot like sealed box speakers, and the bottom port reduces bass and mid-bass boom and makes flattening room response with DSP easier. The Salk Songtowers look like a refined and updated evolution of that ESS design - especially with the RAAL ribbon tweeters in a d'appolito array - although I would probably consider the standard silk-dome tweeters because of the additional cost of the RAAL ribbons. Here are the ones that I like, could afford, and would probably work best in my room.

Look at the gorgeous examples of Salk speakers in Amir's AXPONA reporting posts above this post, and see even more halfway down Salk's home page. Here is a LINK to their list of Salk's available hardwood veneers, most of which I am familiar with, and have turned on my wood lathe. Go down to "Custom Finishes," select a veneer, and click on "Conduct Search" to see many, many examples of some of the most beautiful wood in the world. Using veneers rather than solid hardwoods for any fine woodworking project reduces the environmental impact of exotic wood harvesting. My very favorite wood in the world is ziricote with its black "veining," pictured below - but it can be quite expensive.

At age 77, but fortunately with very good hearing for my age except for the almost universal age-related loss of high-frequency perception, I feel blessed. As my mobility decreases year by year, I lean towards having an excellent little office/media room with my 40" LED TV and 2-channel audio system, and spend many hours traveling the world and listening to a vast array of available digital music, both from my own large collection and internet streaming options.

What is available today in the world of recorded music and video boggles the mind of this older person who was born when there was no television, and it took an album of monaural 78rpm records for a single symphony. I plan to continue to enjoy recorded music and video as long as I can. I am well aware that music therapy for dementia has demonstrated that music can even bring back awareness and a life worth living for many people for whom it had faded, and likely can help to stave off any propensity for dementia. (When my posts become incoherent, you will know that I am fading! :rolleyes:)

My current system - listed below - is an excellent budget stereo system. A dedicated media room (which is coming together now) will be the fulfillment of a dream for me, and upgrading to pair of small floor-standing speakers covered in exotic wood veneer - like the Salk Songtowers - would be a step towards audio/video nirvana.

I'm personally partial to their work with dyed veneers, especially in unusual colours like blue. I think they charge an insanely fair price given the quality of woodworking. They also hold their value really well in the US, at about 60-70% of original price frequently even after years of use. Depreciation is crazy in Asia though, likely due to a lingering skepticism toward Internet-direct sale. Someone is selling a Songtower LCR in black satin for under 1k... very tempting indeed.
 
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#12
I don't think you should make such absolute statements about a veneer cracking without having records of Salk's speakers cracking over a 10 year period.
Quote from someone selling a pair on Audiogon:
"These speakers are about 7 years old...There is a tiny, hairline crack in one of the front baffles, which can be seen only by close inspection (email me if you would like a photo)...."

I don't wish to disparage Salk speakers in any way. I have been working with veneers for 30 years and know from experience that highly figured veneers will crack.
 

Xulonn

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#14
Quote from someone selling a pair on Audiogon:
"These speakers are about 7 years old...There is a tiny, hairline crack in one of the front baffles, which can be seen only by close inspection...."

I don't wish to disparage Salk speakers in any way. I have been working with veneers for 30 years and know from experience that highly figured veneers will crack.
I only worked at Santa Rosa Woodcraft store for five years, but I was also a member of the Sonoma County Woodworkers Association and the Wine Country Woodturners. My experience was dwarfed by the many lifetimes of experience of my fellow SCWA members, and I learned much from them. SCWA has sponsored the annual "Artistry in Wood" exhibit and juried competition at the Sonoma County Museum since 1982, and I won my class there in 2011 with a woodturning piece I called "Oasis" which was crafted from African bubinga and sea-green dyed quilted maple from the Northwest coast region of the U.S. This piece sits in my living room to this day.

Oasis2.JPG


I don't want to disparage you, but your information is not totally accurate. First of all, open grain wood (meaning it has open pores like oak) is not the same as "straight" or "plain" grain wood - which is what I think you meant. Also, although highly figured woods may be more likely to crack, they don't all crack, and things like avoiding direct sunlight, high humidity or extreme low humidity is good for any high-quality finished fine wood furniture, art, and even speakers. Having a stable, material like moisture sealed MDF under properly prepared, glued and finished veneer is a plus. Not all figured veneer pieces do crack, and the level of skill and experience by the craftsmen contributes to their lasting beauty. So yes, wood veneer surfaces can crack, but the risk is minimal, and just like older point-to-point and trough-mount wiring for audio electronics, repairs can be easy and relatively inexpensive.

There are many types of figure in wood, and that particular set of Salk speakers on Audiogon had a cocobolo (a rosewood from here in Latin America) front baffle, and quilted African makore sides.
Cocobolo-2.jpg

Quilted Makore.jpg

Those Salk loudspeakers must have been truly beautiful - and it would be easy for a good wood finisher/refinisher to fix the crack, especially when he could communicate with the original craftsmen at Salk Sound about the finish used. If you cannot live with a minor risk of an easily repairable flaw, you are not a candidate for owning speakers covered with some of the finest and most beautiful woods in the world.

(For those of you who are curious about exotic woods Here is a LINK to a mind-boggling collection of information on exotic woods - a personal website from someone with a true passion for wood. It has been my "go-to" wood website for many years.)
 

Tks

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#15
I only worked at Santa Rosa Woodcraft store for five years, but I was also a member of the Sonoma County Woodworkers Association and the Wine Country Woodturners. My experience was dwarfed by the many lifetimes of experience of my fellow SCWA members, and I learned much from them. SCWA has sponsored the annual "Artistry in Wood" exhibit and juried competition at the Sonoma County Museum since 1982, and I won my class there in 2011 with a woodturning piece I called "Oasis" which was crafted from African bubinga and sea-green dyed quilted maple from the Northwest coast region of the U.S. This piece sits in my living room to this day.

View attachment 35235

I don't want to disparage you, but your information is not totally accurate. First of all, open grain wood (meaning it has open pores like oak) is not the same as "straight" or "plain" grain wood - which is what I think you meant. Also, although highly figured woods may be more likely to crack, they don't all crack, and things like avoiding direct sunlight, high humidity or extreme low humidity is good for any high-quality finished fine wood furniture, art, and even speakers. Having a stable, material like moisture sealed MDF under properly prepared, glued and finished veneer is a plus. Not all figured veneer pieces do crack, and the level of skill and experience by the craftsmen contributes to their lasting beauty. So yes, wood veneer surfaces can crack, but the risk is minimal, and just like older point-to-point and trough-mount wiring for audio electronics, repairs can be easy and relatively inexpensive.

There are many types of figure in wood, and that particular set of Salk speakers on Audiogon had a cocobolo (a rosewood from here in Latin America) front baffle, and quilted African makore sides.
View attachment 35233
View attachment 35234
Those Salk loudspeakers must have been truly beautiful - and it would be easy for a good wood finisher/refinisher to fix the crack, especially when he could communicate with the original craftsmen at Salk Sound about the finish used. If you cannot live with a minor risk of an easily repairable flaw, you are not a candidate for owning speakers covered with some of the finest and most beautiful woods in the world.

(For those of you who are curious about exotic woods Here is a LINK to a mind-boggling collection of information on exotic woods - a personal website from someone with a true passion for wood. It has been my "go-to" wood website for many years.)
Wow that's so cool. I used to buy vaping devices when I quit smoking a few years back (done with both now thankfully). And the highest end devices were usually stabilized wood pieces. Stabilized wood being dyed and baked in resins I think of sorts under pressure. Regardless, some of the best looking woods that most used were maple burles I think they were called, and then you had something called Koa wood which everyone said was the most expensive to stabilize due to it requiring much work in order to get it to accept the resin (due to its density/hardness of that wood).



That "quilted makore" stuff made me gush every time I saw wood with that 3d velvety pattern on it, while the top cocobolo grains of wood pieces of anything I'd see would leave me unimpressed completely (usually not finished and polished well either, and very grainy looking).

And then I saw one of these devices with work like this: I was floored at how beautiful that was... Safe to say, I love stabilized wood products. They seem to be preserved so well, and look so good










 

jsalk

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#16
Xulonn -

Thanks for the nice write-up. This is the first time I have posted on this site. But I thought it would be helpful in case anyone had any questions about these or other related topics.

When we first began building speakers many years ago, I knew nothing about working with wood. But we set up shop in a building with a number if very highly skilled furniture designers and they were willing to answer any question we had. They were very good teachers and their help in those early days was critical to our success over the years. The nice thing is that we have had an opportunity to work with just about every wood you can imagine, many of which we had never heard of before. And now, every once and a while, we get those same wood workers ask us how to work with certain woods they rarely have a chance to use. So we return the favor.

In terms of exotic woods cracking over time, this indeed can happen, especially with oily woods or burled woods. But there are some techniques you can use to minimize the issue. For example, for most veneers, we can use regular veneer glue. But with some woods, it is best to use a 2-part epoxy glue which is much harder and pretty much locks the veneer in place.

- Jim Salk
 

Xulonn

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#17
Welcome to ASR, Jim. I've participated at internet audio forums for 20 years, and as a contract corporate network administrator in San Francisco in the late 1990's, I helped to manage the first servers for Audioasylum.com when a splinter group from Audioreview.com started it up. I also moderated their three vacuum forums for a while, but eventually drifted away. About 16 months ago, I joined this site when I realized that it was a perfect blend that matched my science background and my audio and music interests. I also like that ASR tolerates unverifiable subjective audio impressions as a personal prerogrative, but rejects promoting them as factual.

Although I normally prefer reasonably straight grain woods for speakers, ziricote with its black veining and overlapping grain patterns is my very favorite exotic wood.

Based on a lifetime of playing with audio, I would not hesitate to order a pair of the Songtowers with ziricote veneer sans audition, and have them forwarded to me here in Panama. Your published graphs show a very flat on-axis response - a feature associated with "listener preferred" sound in thousands of blind testing sessions in audio research, plus the deeper bass and less critical placement in small rooms of a bottom-port transmission-line cabinet really appeals to me. If I can scrape up the funds next spring, I will likely make such a pair of speakers my "last gasp" in my 60 years of audio and recorded music fun.
 

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